Have you ever thought about volunteering?
This week, 1-7June, is Volunteers’ Week, so we’re encouraging people to look at how they can get involved.
Volunteering not only makes a difference to the organisation you support, but can also deliver benefits to your wellbeing and mental health.
Lauren Wardman, Deputy Director for Engagement, ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Volunteers’ Week is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with a local organisation and provide them with your valuable time and support.
“Not only will you be doing something really worthwhile, but you will also meet new people and gain valuable experience. Giving something back in this way can be really good for your emotional wellbeing and mental health.
“Our volunteers are key to supporting the delivery of high quality care and offer an added dimension to the services we provide. They bring energy, time, life experience and commitment to the role and their contribution has significant value, making a real difference to individuals, the communities we live in, and society overall.”
Volunteering can help you to:
- meet new people
- gain new skills and experience
- improve your job prospects
- increase your confidence
- be an active member of your community
Two Trust volunteers, who each volunteer with us for different reasons, shared their stories.
Amanda started volunteering with the Trust as a step towards getting back into work after experiencing mental illness.
Amanda had to give up work in 2012, when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She said: “I hadn’t worked since 2012 and had lost confidence in myself.
“As I was starting to feel well again and I knew I wanted to go back to work, it was suggested to me that volunteering might be a good first step towards that.
“I was told I would be joining the Communications Team and would be helping with events, which is something I have experience of.
“I felt excited but also nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I found I really enjoyed it and it helped to get me out of the house.
“I was made to feel very much part of the team, and I was so proud of myself for doing things I didn’t think I could do.
“I started to feel that I would benefit from more regular work, rather than the ad hoc nature of events, and the team acted on this feedback.
“I now go into work with them regularly and found being part of the team, and receiving encouragement from them, really made me feel worthy again.
“I now feel ready to be out there in the big wide world again, and it has given me the confidence to take Learndirect courses, and ultimately start applying for jobs.”
Sarah started volunteering with the Trust’s art psychotherapy department to help develop her career prospects. She explained: “I’m a qualified art psychotherapist and did my training placement with ²gether NHS Foundation Trust back in 2010.
“Once I had finished my training, I was invited to volunteer with the Trust on an ongoing basis. I agreed as I saw it as a great opportunity to continue my professional development and improve my skills range.
“I volunteer as a co-facilitator of art psychotherapy groups for service users who are under the care of the Recovery Team. At the moment the groups take place weekly at the Museum in the Park, in Stroud, and can be one of a range of psychological treatments offered.
“I volunteer because there are very few art psychotherapy jobs within the NHS so volunteering is a great way for me to maintain and expand my knowledge and experience of working with those with a mental health condition.”
We offer a range of volunteering opportunities. To find out more, go to our Volunteering page.